WHITEWATER, Wis. — On Tuesday, Wisconsin-Whitewater set school and WIAC tournament 3-point shooting records. On Thursday, the Warhawks were the shot a season-low 27 percent from the field, but the Warhawks forced 28 Wisconsin-Eau Claire turnovers in a 57-53 Whitewater win to advance to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship game.
UW-Wisconsin, 22-5, will travel to UW-Stevens Point, 22-4,in the title game. Point defeated UW-River Falls 70-60 in the other semifinal Thursday.
|TOP 25 SCORES|
|No. 5 Calvin 78, St. Mary’s (Ind.) 50|
|No. 6 Mount Union 84, Capital 70|
|No. 7 Mary Washington 64, Marymount 62|
|No. 11 St. Thomas 58, St. Mary’s (Minn.) 45|
|No. 24 UW-Whitewater 57, No. 17 UW-Eau Claire 53|
|No. 18 Hope 58, Albion 55|
Eau Claire went inside early and often. The Blugolds led 12-5 at 15:56, and senior forward Callie Halama and senior center Ellen Plendl accounted for all 12. Halama had nine of those. Senior guard Nicole Christianson hit a 3-pointer at 13:44 for the first points by the Eau Claire backcourt, putting the Blugolds up 17-7.
Eau Claire added another bucket at 12:42 for a 19-7 margin, their largest lead of the first half.
Whitewater followed with a 7-0 burst to narrow the gap to 19-14 on two Emily Bestor free throws with 8:20 left. The Warhawks reached that five-point deficit twice more in the half, 25-20 on a Cortney Kumerow basket, and as the clock wound down Chantel Burg grabbed a rebound, drove the length of the court, hit a scoop layup and drew the foul, then hit the free throw, to make the score 28-23 into intermission.
Chantel Burg’s 3-pointer at 18:37 pulled UW-W within two at 28-26, but Eau Claire recovered and built their margin back to eight, 41-33 on Plendl’s free throw.
Jamie Swanson’s 3-pointer brought Whitewater back to two behind at 45-43 at 7:56. Sophomore guard Kaitlyn Thill drove the lane and tied the game at 7:19 for the first time. Eau Claire scored the next six points to lead 51-45 at 5:12.
With 2:24 on the clock, Merg stepped to the line and hit two free throws, giving the Warhawks their first lead of the game 52-51. Halama gave Eau Claire a 53-52 lead with her bucket at 1:53, but Merg buried a 3-pointer with 1:07 for a 55-53 Whitewater lead.
The Blugolds gained possession with 0:20 left, and called timeout with 0:12 left. Whitewater’s Cortney Kumerow came up with a steal with six seconds left, and went to the line and hit two free throws for the final margin.
Eau Claire led the rebound battle 43-33 to outscore Whitewater 26-16 in the paint”. Whitewater commited 11 turnovers to the 27 for UW-Eau Claire, with the Warhawks scoring 31 points off turnovers to five for the Blugolds.